Dealing With Bullies

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In our previous post we discussed how insolently proud, narcissistic bullies will use a position of power to coerce compliance on the part of others through bullying tactics.  Sadly, until Jesus returns to set everything right, this will be part of the world we must navigate.

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How do we deal with the bullies that inevitably cross our paths?  Here are options we have:

  1. Avoid them – bullies may have the upper hand on their turf, but who says we have to stay on their turf and play their game?
  2. Try a power play – sometimes we’re in a position to “fight back”
  3. Get our “big brother” – sometimes we can recruit someone stronger (the image of bringing your big brother to the playground) to defend us

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I had a friend tell me the story of his children bullied on the school bus on the way to school.  One morning he got on the bus and told the bullies “This is going to end.  The only question is how much pain you are going to take before you stop, because I will do whatever it takes until you stop”.  In the face of what the bullies knew was an unwinnable battle, they stopped their bullying.

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What if none of the above three options are available to us?  We can take a bigger view of the situation and invite God to be our defender and protector.

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Secular Thoughts On Dating A Narcissist

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This blog started as a result of a situation with a narcissist which led me to cry to God for “Help!”  God’s process of answering that prayer began with leading me first to the secular definition, traits, and tactics.  I thought, THIS is what I’m dealing with.  After that I thought, “surely God says something about it”, and the research for this blog commenced.

The secular world does a good job of observing and describing narcissistic traits – as those are readily apparent to everyone to see.  The difference between the secular and Biblical perspectives lie in 1.  what is the cause, 2.  what are possible solutions, and 3.  how do you deal Biblically with them?

In some cases, the right answer is to “avoid” them (where this applies is discussed in the post Dealing With Narcissists – It Depends on the Relationship).

This is particularly appropriate in dating relationships.  We have a friend who was recently badly hurt dating a narcissist.  This friend constantly felt bad, and did not know why.  I just shared with him an article I found @ https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/am-i-dating-a-narcissist.

Here are some highlights

11 Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist

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Narcissists Will Never Celebrate Your Success (Because They’re Jealous)

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You may occasionally be surprised when a narcissistic “friend” fails to be happy for, or even acknowledge, some accomplishment in your life.  An exception might occur if they have already done the same thing before you, or at a higher level than you.  In that case, your accomplishment provides them with the opportunity to boast about what they did first or better.

Two examples from narcissists in the Bible illustrate this point:

The first came from Jesus’ parable of the “prodigal son”, where Jesus described the narcissistic brother of the lost son this way as the prodigal son returned:

 

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’

But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you never gave me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;

Luke 15:25-29

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The older brother – who owned the full remaining inheritance after his little brother squandered his portion – was focused on what he did not get instead of celebrating his brother’s return.

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Another prime example is the Pharisees’ unwillingness to acknowledge the Messiah – Jesus – when He came.  They were jealous of His success and chided each other for losing their status among the people,

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For this reason [the healing of Lazarus] also the people went to meet Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.  So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are not accomplishing anything; look, the world has gone after Him!”

John 12:18-19

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in another instance, instead of being happy when a man was healed on a Sabbath (John 5:1-18), the Pharisees immediately began to criticize that it had happened on the Sabbath – looking for some spurious reason with which to undermine the miracle.

Failure to acknowledge another’s success – or going further to tear down or undermine it fits with the narcissistic modus operandi – in the insolent pride of their heart they must be first, best, top dog, ahead of you.  Everyone else’s purpose is to support their exaltation – and nothing less can be tolerated.

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In contrast to the Pharisees, John (the Baptist) – whom Jesus described as the greatest man who ever lived (Matthew 11:11) – readily deferred to Jesus when He came on the scene:

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And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing and all the people are coming to Him.”  John replied, “A person can receive not even one thing unless it has been given to him from heaven.  

You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent ahead of Him.’  He who has the bride is the groom; but the friend of the groom, who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly because of the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.  

He must increase, but I must decrease. 

John 3:26-30

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To those who have experienced this – we need not worry.  God sees and rewards actions which flow out of a right heart of love, and even if a narcissist ignores, discounts, or destroys your accomplishment in the eyes of man, God will have the last say – as He always does.

We do not need to defend ourselves or make sure we are acknowledged or recognized – God will take care of that in His way and in His time.  Ultimately God wants others to see that the true accomplishment was Him working in our lives – demonstrating it in a way that points people to Him, so that they can also experience His love and goodness for them.

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Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:16

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

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BOOKS FOR THE SOUL

 

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Narcissists Are “Ungenerous”

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Out of their insolent pride and selfishness, and their “me first” attitude, narcissists lack a generosity of spirit.  Let’s call them “ungenerous”.  They believe that “charity begins at home” – and should mostly stay at home.   In other words, “me first”, and then you might get some of the left over crumbs if they feel magnanimous.

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The insolently proud Pharisees (see here ) exemplify this.  Jesus said to them,

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 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 

Matthew 23:23-24

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Jesus was saying that the Pharisees scrupulously kept the tiniest letter of the law, while ignoring the things most on God’s heart – justice, mercy, and true faithfulness to God.  Also implied is an underlying motive that the Pharisees did not want to give to God any more than was absolutely required.

In Mark 7 Jesus also challenged the Pharisees for using a loophole in their traditions to keep from offering help to their parents, refusing the most basic element of generosity.

But even though narcissists are ungenerous, they still want to be seen as generous.

Jesus called the Pharisees out for making a big show of the few coins they would give to the poor – fake generosity done in a manner to get maximum attention.  He then used them as a counter-example to explain that genuine, quiet generosity is the path to true reward.

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“Take care not to practice your righteousness in the sight of people, to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.

 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, so that they will be praised by people. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 

But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your charitable giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 

Matthew 6:1-4

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In Acts, the narcissistic Ananias and Sapphira also wanted to quietly limit their generosity while appearing to be generous.

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It is easy to understand the narcissist’s lack of a generous spirit.  Their self-exaltation always believes that they deserve more than others, deserve the best, deserve the first of everything.  But there is a deep fallacy in their thinking.

While they may mentally assent to God’s glory, in their hearts they either

    • Fail to truly understand God’s limitless love, wisdom, and power (they believe the economic pie is limited and therefore they must get whatever they can for themselves)  OR
    • Fail to truly understand that God is a rewarder of those seek Him and put Him first (Hebrews 11:7)  OR
    • Want to live life their way, according to their rules – forfeiting God’s blessing and forcing them to grab whatever they can in compensation.

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Their failure – in their hearts – to recognize, acknowledge, or submit to God as GOD – with His unlimited knowledge, love and power – makes them grab whatever they can.  This is in contrast to those generous in spirit willing to let go and give out of love – trusting the God of unlimited generosity and resources to make everything good in the end.

In contrast to the ungenerous narcissists, Jesus said,

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Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” 
Luke 6:38

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A Great Example

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I came across something so compelling I just had to share.

I saw a small fraction of the Olympics, including the women’s 400 meter hurdles won in world record time by Sydney Maclaughlin.  I then heard that she was a believer in Jesus, and came across this quote from her Instagram page:

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“Let me start off by saying, what and honor it is to be able to represent not only my country, but also the kingdom of God. What I have in Christ is far greater than what I have or don’t have in life.

I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God. Even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it doesn’t seem possible. He will make a way out of no way. Not for my own gratification, but for His glory. I have never seen God fail in my life. In anyone’s life for that matter. Just because I may not win every race, or receive every one of my heart’s desires, does not mean God had failed. His will is PERFECT.

And He has prepared me for a moment such as this. That I may use the gifts He has given me to point all the attention back to Him. “

(https://www.instagram.com/p/CSMa9_mrhQU/)

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YES !!!

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God knew Sydney’s heart and her testimony – including her willingness to genuinely give God the glory – and provided her a platform so that HE would be made known to a much broader audience.

The narcissistic approach is to exalt ourselves first, with God possibly benefitting from OUR reflected glory as a secondary consideration.

But the non-narcissistic, humble approach is to “go low” in our hearts, seek to honor God first, and then let Him decide how He wants to use it – whether very visibly like Sydney Mclaughlin, or invisibly in a way that will only be revealed in eternity.

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally

 

 

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Time To Prepare

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Are we there yet?

A friend recently surprised me at lunch by saying that many of his friends actively discussed the approaching return of Christ.  I thought I was alone in feeling that we’re getting close.  Could we actually be at the end?

How are we to know?  Which of the rapture positions are correct – pre-trib, post-trib, or pan-trib (it will all pan out in the end)?  And how do we prepare for what’s coming our way?

Until now we had the luxury to debate what the Scripture says, but at the actual end that debate crashes into reality.   When we are close to God’s destination our views will have real-world implications on how we proceed, and how to prepare.

God has provided “trip instructions” on the road to the end.  And He has provided a key signpost which will tell us which set of instructions are correct.  We are announcing a new book outlining those signposts, especially the one which will tell us that it really is “time to prepare”.

 

Click on the book

click for link to Amazon Books

 

As the title says, Time To Prepare:  Signposts On The Road To The End outlines

  • the Biblical signposts on the road to the end
  • the key signpost that will tell us which side of “the debate” is actually true
  • practical Biblical advice for what’s coming our way

 

 

 

 

 

 

The clear Biblical perspective in these pages will give you a solid base, and hope, for what looks to be a bumpy ride ahead.

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Actions Speak Louder

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Most of you have heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.  This well-worn phrase from the past, like many others, actually has a Biblical foundation.  Consider these for example,

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By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;    I John 2:3-4

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John’s point is that the proof of your what’s in your heart is in what you do, not in what you say.  If you say something and do the opposite, it is what you do that counts.

Titus said the same thing;

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They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.     Titus 1:16

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As did James

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What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   James 2:14-16

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No matter what they may claim, a narcissist’s functional (actual) philosophy is just the opposite.  They believe that what they claim is what really counts.

David accurately described them in Psalm 12

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They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”   Psalm 12:2-4

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Narcissists believe that they can achieve what they want through words, even if those words have no underlying substance.

A narcissist may get away with this “all talk, no action” approach for awhile, but it will catch up with them at some point.  They may fool some people for awhile, or jump from person to person to avoid being found out, but as always God has the last say in everything.

He sees their act, knows the lack of substance, and makes the final judgment based on actions, not words.

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“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.     Matthew 7:21-23

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The Proof Of Everything

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Let’s take a little side trip here for a small discussion on the biggest of topics.  You will soon see it is very relevant to our discussion on insolent pride and narcissism.

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Every of life’s deepest challenges drives us to three most basic of questions:

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  1. Is there a God?
  2. Who is He (His nature, and attributes)?
  3. Does He have the wisdom, power, and love to care and help with things in my life?

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As we go about our daily lives, commuting to work, going to the grocery store, watching the game, or planning our next vacation, as we look out the window at gray skies, as we read the mostly awful and contentious news, it is difficult to relate God to our stress-filled and sometimes tedious lives.

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We do not see Him, we see the mess around and in us, and yet we are supposed to place Him at the center of how we operate?  We are supposed to respond in kindness to crummy people?  It would sure be nice to know that what we base our lives on is actually real, and not a figment of our imagination – as many people seem to think.  Some reliable proof of the existence and character of God would be nice.

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In fact, God has given us proof.  The first, general proof is in nature, or Creation.  While there are non-stop efforts to explain away often obvious facts, the creativity and detail of the world above and around us screams that there is a Creator.  The night sky in the Rocky Mountains reveals this small corner the Milky Way galaxy.

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How can you consider the hundreds of billions of  these galaxies, each containing hundreds of billions of stars – suns like ours, and not wonder where it all came from?  Scientists have tried to explain it all, apart from God, with a big bang theory, but still cannot get to the ultimate origin.  What came before the Big Bang?  Theories always hit a limit of understanding with respect to everything we see.  The more we know about eyes, cells, everything visible and even invisible – the more difficult it is to believe that it happened by chance.  This discussion is far beyond the scope of this blog.

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But there is an even more inescapable proof of the reality, love and power of God.  The sad fact is that everyone dies – a final and irreversible death.  Do you personally know anyone who was dead for multiple days, and then came back to life?  The ultimate proof that God is real is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after His death.   The importance of Jesus’ resurrection as a proof of the reality of God is one reason God made sure it was a well-documented fact.  There are several sources that discuss this proof, such as here

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If Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is proof of God’s existence – and power – then the events that led to Jesus death are proof of His love.

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But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

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He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?   Romans 8:32

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And this love is intimate and personal.

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O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.    Psalm 139:1-10

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For everyone struggling with a narcissist in their lives, the reality of a wise, infinitely powerful, and personally loving God changes everything.

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Click here for initial steps on how to know God personally.

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Narcissist Traits – No Limit To Their Kingdom Building

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One characteristic of true narcissists / those with insolent pride is that there is no limit to their desire for being exalted by others.   They are the ultimate “kingdom builders”, with the goal of showing their “greatness”.  The only thing limiting them is their opportunity.  That is why classic narcissists like Hitler and Napoleon would could be relatively obscure, but when given the opportunity would move quickly to create the biggest kingdom possible – at the expense of many other people, of course.

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Habakkuk 2:4-5

“Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.
“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
So that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
And he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations
And collects to himself all peoples.

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As the ultimate narcissist, this very much applies to Satan.  Satan’s goal is to gather to himself all nations, and collect to himself all people – to himself and away from God – even though Satan knows full well that those people will be utterly destroyed as a result.   (See here for the first step in not falling into Satan’s trap)

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Click here for a short discussion of the first steps to know God personally

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
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Book Announcements

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Davidson Trust Publishing is announcing the following books:

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“Lot’s Choice” – just released in print and on Kindle.

“Lot’s Choice” is a short book triggered by a discussion our church home group had a few months ago on the chapter “He Hesitated” from JC Ryle’s book  “Holiness”.  “Lot’s Choice” discusses the essential criteria for making decisions good for our lives, while avoiding the unforeseen outcomes of trying to have it both ways.  It is a straightforward case study – easily used for personal Bible study or for group discussions from youth to adults.

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In the works are two additional books.

  • “Do Not Worry About Tomorrow:  A Biblical Perspective On God’s Provision”
    • Release date – February 28, 2020

 

  • “Signposts:  On The Road To The End of History”  (working title)
    •  Expected release date – June 2020
    • A book that outlines
      • the prophetic signposts we are currently witnessing,
      • what they mean
      • how to prepare for what is to come

 

 

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Narcissists Complain Alot

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If you notice, Narcissists [aka those with insolent pride], tend to complain – a lot.   The Bible of course speaks to this.

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Both the Pharisees and the scribes* began to grumble , saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.   Luke 15:2

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When they [Pharisees*] saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”   Luke 19:7

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These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.    Jude 1:16

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The Greek word for grumble is diagoggýzō , which means constantly, intensely murmuring (grumble, complain). It is an intensified form of goggýzō (“murmur”) to convey “heavy complaining,”.  Narcissists don’t just complain, they really gripe when things do not suit them.  Of course, this is consistent with their insolent pride, which believes that life’s events must conform to their wishes or views, and when they don’t somebody – or everybody – is going to hear about it.   This is a narcissistic trait, but it can also be one of their tactics – their loud complaints is an indirect way to force  others to comply with their wishes.

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*The Pharisees were classic narcissists – see here as a starting point.

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The Range Of Perspectives On Narcissism

If you’ve found this blog, there is a good chance you – or someone you care about – has experienced some of the more damaging consequences of genuine narcissism.

Maybe you didn’t realize you were dealing with a narcissist at first, but the pain and damage this selfish, arrogant, condescending, and domineering person caused might have driven you to search for answers about what was going on, and how to deal with them.  As you searched online or in books, perhaps you read more about who this type of person is, and how he or she operates.  You likely have read explanations on causes, and advice on how to deal with this “narcissist.”

Those looking for help with understanding and dealing with a narcissist have typically turned to the following five sources:

    • Professional psychologists or psychiatrists
    • The pop-psychology world of books, blogs, self-help forums, etc.
    • Christian psychologists
    • Biblical counselors[i]
    • A shoulder to cry on (i.e. – a caring friend)

Of the above, by far the most commonly sought sources have been the world of pop-psychology and caring friends.  My own journey of discovery started with asking God for “help!”, but my first stop on the road was the world of pop-psychology.  However, God soon showed me that He has something to say on the subject. Continue reading

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Boundlessly Good, Continued

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As I mentioned previously, the book “Boundlessly Good” is a modernized version of Stephen Charnock’s classic chapter on the goodness of God.  As this blog has publishing rights to that book, I have created a second blog that gives small excerpts from the book every few days.  It is a way to read the key excerpts from Boundlessly Good in bite size chunks, and thus rather painlessly read a Christian classic over time.

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The blog is called “Boundlessly Good”.  I invite you to take a look.

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Top 10 Jobs

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For a little related-topic fun……  As you dig into the article, all of the traits they attribute to “psychopaths” sound a lot like “narcissists”*.

Infographic: The 10 jobs that attract the most psychopaths | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

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  • “Narcissism” is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  See here.
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Is Narcissism* On The Increase?

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When you look around, it surely looks as though narcissism* is on the rise.  People seem to be increasingly selfish, self-centered, and arrogant, while common civility is on the decline.  We can debate whether we are “in the last days”, but the description in 2 Timothy 3 appears very close to what is currently taking place…..

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2 Timothy 3

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these….

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……. 7 (they are) always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (see Prov 14:6)

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8b so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all……..

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13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived…….. 

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If it sometimes seems as though things are getting worse, the Bible tells us that in the last days things actually will get worse – including from those pretending to be “religious”.  But the writer Paul goes on to give some proscriptive advice to the young man he was mentoring (and through this to us) …..

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